Galapagos Travel Guide

A very brief guide to help you plan your trip to the Galapagos

The thirteen major islands of the Galápagos straddle the equator 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador. The best way to see them is on one of the motor and sailing yachts, large and small, that are based in the islands. Cruising these 'enchanted islands' adds considerably to the overall experience and gives access to the important sites. Hotels are available for the non-nautical. The archipelago is a national park financed by visitor income. Preservation of its sensitive ecosystems depends on the right balance between wildlife and humans. Key issues include the impact of visitors and their boats, immigration of settlers from the mainland, and introduced species such as feral goats.

Tourism, which is tightly controlled to reduce its negative impacts, provides the considerable income needed to fund conservationprogrammes to safeguard island ecology, notably by the progressive eradication of introduced species that are the greatest threat. There are limits on the number of visitors overall, and to each particular landing site around the islands. When ashore you must keep to the well thought out system of paths. Boats are tightly regulated in such matters as anchoring and effluent, and long-term allocation to fixed itineraries encourages responsibility for their proper conservation. The end result is a very workable system that achieves its goals while scarcely diminishing the experience of visiting these fabulous islands.